"Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and flight to the imagination."
Music is like breathing to me. Next to my husband and my kids, it’s literally what feeds my soul. I am constantly inspired by it, uplifted by it and taken to new places by it. Simply put, without music, this story would have never been created.
So here it is: the playlist for FLIGHT! And a detailed explanation for why these songs inspired the writing that they did.
It’s long and more reading. You have been warned. Again.
CHAPTER 1: Sister Rosetta by The Noisettes
Ok, admittedly, I don’t completely understand what this song is about. All I know is, it’s FUN and exactly the music I hear when I imagine the opening to my story: Camille in the middle of getting ready for what is the biggest night of the school year, which is abruptly interrupted by the franticness of trying to get to Vanderhale Prep to stop her baby sister from making a fool of herself and her family. The song has a wonderful mix of gospel and alternative edge that I love, which I guess would be fitting in the FLIGHT universe when you consider the two types of worlds that are colliding in this story. It’s just a super cool, super hip way to start out the book and introduce our heroine.
CHAPTER 1: Can’t Keep Loving You From A Distance by Elliot Yasmin
“How do I get close when she looks like an angel? A moment of her time just seems impossible to me.”
Envision a magically lit ballroom, Mardi Gras decorations littering the space, beautiful people in formal wear flitting in and out this glittery place, and Xavier waiting patiently in the corner. And then… she walks in and he is captured by her immediately. This is the song that plays in Xavier's head as he watches her, unnoticed and uninterrupted.
The lyrics of this song are the thoughts I imagine Xavier having when he first sees Camille at the ball. This is a woman that has haunted Xavier’s dreams. He’s drawn to her, but not in the typical ‘angel drawn to their mortal’ kind of way, and it scares him. He’s not used to these feelings of insecurity and doubt. How should he go about helping this girl? Should he follow what his heart is telling him to do, or abandon those feelings and maybe walk away from the potential love of his life?
I also love that it’s right after Sister Rosetta. It’s symbolic of the calm and beauty that Xavier brings, that interrupts the craziness that is Camille’s life.
CHAPTER 2: Diary by Alicia Keys & Raphael Saadiq
“I won’t tell your secrets. Your secrets are safe with me. I will keep your secrets. Just think of me as the pages in your diary.”
There are some songs that are just quintessential FLIGHT, and if there ever is an actual soundtrack to the movie that’s made, that song just HAS to be a part of it. This is one of those songs. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to this song on repeat over and over again. It’s truly the anthem of ACT I, and the soundtrack to Camille and Xavier’s first real encounter.
This song inspired the moment when Camille is leaving the yearbook committee meeting and finds Xavier playing by himself in the music room. Everything about this song is perfect for this scene: the melody is soft and sexy, and the lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate. This moment is the first brick that Camille is slowly allowing to come down, and she’s doing it for Xavier. Her carefully constructed wall that she’s built so strong and so high is starting to crumble and it’s for an almost complete stranger. Can she trust Xavier with her secrets? Can she let him into her thoughts, into her feelings? Here, she starts to realize that she can.
CHAPTER 3: You Found Me by Kelly Clarkson
“I’ve become comfortably numb, until you opened up my eyes to what it’s like when everything’s right. I can’t believe you found me when no one else was looking. How did you know just where I would be?”
I love the opening bars of this song. They’re so dark and intriguing. There’s an air of mystery and romance to it that totally captures the moment when Camille and Xavier are in the car on their way to Casa de Los Angeles. Again, the lyrics are so perfect. Camille didn’t even realize up until meeting Xavier how lost she was, how she needed to be found and shown a different way to live. Camille has always had the ability to find her path, but it’s Xavier that becomes the beacon to help her get there.
CHAPTER 3: Local God by Everclear
“You look so stupid. I feel just like a local god when I’m with the boys. We do what we want.”
This is another one of those songs that TOTALLY needs to be a part of the FLIGHT soundtrack if there ever actually is a real soundtrack. This is absolutely, quintessentially, Noelle and her friends’ theme song. We get to see Noelle in her element when Camille is floating precariously outside, unable to get down to solid ground. Noelle and her friends are so arrogant, so badass and so broken. They are the upper crust to the upper crust elite and the world is at their fingertips. They are the local gods and everyone else is beneath them.
They do what they want, they get what they want and they don’t give a f*** what you think.
CHAPTER 6: Come A Little Bit Closer by Brandy
“I know that it’s late and maybe I shouldn’t be so into you. It’s just that tonight, I’m so taken, I’m falling for you…”
This song inspired the scene when Camille decides to take Xavier home and brings him the music room. Camille has never brought a boy home before, and again, it’s another brick coming down. She’s slowly starting to give in and be vulnerable, something she’s never been in her life. She’s allowing Xavier to come a little bit closer, letting him into her heart just a little bit more. It’s one of my favorite moments in the book and one of my favorite songs in the playlist.
I also love that again, it comes right after such a hardcore, alternative, harsh song like Local God. The smooth, silky R&B is both the compete antithesis and a welcome reprieve after such a rocking song, which is exactly what Xavier brings to Camille’s world.
CHAPTER 10: Human II by Boyz II Men
“I know I made mistakes, I am what I am, I’m only a man. Don’t take my joy away, don’t turn your back on me.”
Xavier has lost Camille, her faith in him is shattered and all those bricks that have been coming down are threatening to build themselves right back up again. Xavier realizes this and when he comes to her, on bended knee, asking for forgiveness, it’s the most vulnerable either one of these two characters are in the entire book. Angel or not, they are both flawed, they both make mistakes, and they both need to be able to move past it all. It’s such a beautiful song about being sorry and living with regret, and being man enough to be able to admit that you make mistakes.
CHAPTER 12: The Nearness Of You by Nancy Wilson
This song always breaks my heart a little bit whenever I hear it. Partly because Nancy Wilson’s voice is just so haunting and lovely, and partly because I hear Xavier’s mother singing it, and the happy memories that this song evokes of Xavier’s childhood. I imagine Xavier as a child, incredible music always all around him, two happy, loving parents and a brother who was his best friend. This song harkens back to happier days for him, when the world was still a beautiful place and his family still intact.
This is the song that Xavier and Camille dance to in his apartment, and these are the memories that flood Xavier’s heart as he hears his mother’s voice.
CHAPTER 13: All I Do by Stevie Wonder
“You’re getting to be all that matters to me…”
This is the song that Xavier is singing when he’s cooking breakfast for Camille at his apartment, and in my mind, he’s singing it because he was actually there in the recording studio when
Stevie Wonder himself recorded it. Xavier is the son of a music mogul, who produced some of R&B’s most amazing artists of all time. I liken Xavier's dad to the real life Berry Gordy, and I imagine Xavier as this little kid, growing up in that environment, being surrounded by all these incredible artists. This is the music that inspired Xavier and totally influenced the musician he is today.
CHAPTER 13: We Should Be by Trey Songz
“You’re looking so lovely, I’m thinking about you loving me, kissing me…Tonight you couldn’t look any better, amazingly irresistible…”
There are a few artists that were on constant repeat while I was writing, and Trey Songz was definitely one of them. He’s smooth and sexy, and urban and hard – everything I imagine Xavier to be. This song inspired the moment when Camille is coming down the stairs, getting ready to go to the gala with Xavier. It’s the first time they’re both at their absolute best, dressed for a formal evening out on the town, and they both totally blow each other away with how beautiful the other one looks. The scene at the gala is yet another one of my favorite moments in the story, and this is part of the reason why.
CHAPTER 13: Angel by Tyrese & Candace
“I have never seen wings like that, never seen a smile like that. I’ve seen a light but never ever bright as that. Am I going crazy or is this just a dream?”
Ok, I’m not sure where this song really fits in, because there are so many places where it could work. Again, it’s just one of those songs that totally encapsulates the love story between Xavier and Camille. Maybe this is the song they first make love to. Maybe this is the song that they dance to the night of the gala. Maybe it’s the song Xavier and Camille write together that day in his apartment. Maybe this is just a song that Xavier hears in his head every time he’s around Camille. Either way, it works and I absolutely love it.
CHAPTER 14: Scream by Usher
“Got no drink in my hand but I’m wasted, getting drunk on the thought of you naked…”
If Xavier were real, and if he ever were able to record and release a hit R&B single, this would be it.
This is the song that Xavier performs at Seraphim. It’s hot, edgy, sexy and is a song that’s meant to be danced to and heard live. This was one of the hardest scenes for me to write because it was so real in my head: the lights, the people in the club dancing, the background singers, the band… it was all so clear what this moment looked like, I had to get it right. I’m hoping that I did.
Usher is the other artist that was on repeat over and over again while I was writing FLIGHT and to this day, anytime I hear an Usher song on the radio, I smile because I imagine it’s Xavier’s voice singing to me through my car speakers.
CHAPTER 20: With You In My Head by UNKLE & The Black Angels
“You’re completely disturbed, all you want is allegiance…Collecting all the people you love…we’ve all been summoned.”
This song is just BADASS and was on repeat as I played out the fight sequence between the angels in the school. The words were so hauntingly appropriate and the edgy melody was the perfect backdrop for the fight between good and evil.
CHAPTER 20: I Love The Way You Lie by Colton Dixon
“On the first page of our story, the future seemed so bright. Then the saint turned out so evil, I don’t know why I’m still surprised. Even angels have their wicked schemes, and you take that to new extremes. But you’ll always be my hero even though you’ve lost your mind.”
I can’t even write those lyrics without getting teary eyed. This is Noelle and Camille’s song, and the song that inspired Noelle’s death scene. This is such a tragic moment, but the true tragedy is that despite all that Noelle’s done, Camille still embraces her sister, for all her faults, all her shortcomings, and yet it all still ended so badly. There is only one unconditional love story in this book, and it’s in the love that Camille has for her sister. As the words in this song so hauntingly tell it, “Just gonna stand there and watch me burn, but that’s alright because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry, but that’s alright because I love the way you lie."
These next 2 songs don’t fit anywhere specifically in my story, but played a huge part in the inspiration of it overall.
Inside Out by Sara Bareilles
"Little spirit, now don’t you desert me now. I know I don’t always hear it; you don’t always speak so loud. I’m not willing to simply lay down my soul for this.”
I can’t tell you how many times I would be at a complete standstill, feeling like I was in way over my head, thinking that there was no way I could possibly go on and finish this story, when all of a sudden, a Sara Bareilles song would come on. Her music has come on in restaurants, in stores, in my car, even in a Corner Bakery Restaurant once. And not the commonly played Sara Bareilles songs you hear on the radio, I’m talking about rare live songs that only fans of hers would know. And just hearing her voice, that would be enough. That would be all that I needed to pick myself off the ground and keep plowing through. This process has been such a labor of love for me, one that was painful and tiring and never ending and daunting. But somehow, someway, I would find the smallest kernel of inspiration, and it was usually through a Sara song, and that would be the push I needed to keep going. There are so many of her songs that are so fitting for this journey I’ve been on, but if I had to pick one, it would be this one.
Something Special by Usher
“Make no mistake you’re all I see, my vision’s never been so clear… We’ve got something special, together we’ll take over the world.”
In the ‘Thank You’ portion of my novel, I thank Mr. Usher Raymond. He was the voice, the swagger, the inspiration and the soul for Xavier. I can’t tell you how many times I would listen to an Usher song and hear him as Xavier singing. There are so many of his songs that inspired me, but this is one that I especially liked. I imagine Xavier having a very private moment with Camille when he’s singing this to her, either at one of his sold out concerts (which, in my world, he will have someday) or in the quiet of his apartment. This is a song he would write just for her.